Category Archives: Bremerton

Live Blog: Council Meeting 9/28/11

I’m going to try bringing a feature back to the Kitsap Caucus, something we used to do fairly regularly. I will live blog tonight’s council study session, during which they will discuss the acquisition of another piece of art for Pacific Avenue. It will be created by William Mueller of Sedalia, Colo. Mueller has family in Bremerton. His art, “Sun Scoop” will go on Pacific and Ninth, costs $7,100 and comes from the city’s 1 percent for the arts program. Here’s a rendering of it.

Sun Scoop

I’m not doing the live blog because I expect tonight’s meeting to be controversial. The 1 percent public arts programs have their critics among story commenters, talk show hosts and across the realm within the general public. For the most part, though, the statues funded through the city’s 1 percent program have not caused much heat in council meetings.

The fish and fisherman statue was another issue. People still reference them in their comments critical of Bremerton, along with red-light cameras and condos.

I’m doing this because I might start doing it a lot. I used to do it for port meetings, county commission meetings, national political events we watched together and other noteworthy happenings. Chris Dunagan is blogging today from the Rifle Club courtroom and Brynn just came back from a conference where the idea was discussed and it made me think maybe it’s time to trot these out again. Feel free to join us if you like, but no pressure. I’ll post either way.
If you can join us live, it will begin at about 5 p.m. If not you can scroll through it later.

Expanding on Port of Tracyton expansion

Brynn writes:

After stirring up some people with the recent story I wrote about the Port of Tracyton’s annexation request that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot, I thought it only fair that I attend the port commissioner meeting last week to see how many people showed up.

Based on the series of comments below my story, I went to the meeting expecting a large crowd, and possibly some pitchforks. I was surprised when instead only four people were waiting to enter the small Tracyton Community Library for the meeting. Everyone was in good spirits and it appeared they were there to learn more about the plans for the waterfront and not to attack the three port commissioners.

Commission chairman William Mooney explained to the group the port’s plans, saying instead of raising taxes commissioners chose to expand the port district’s reach. He said my article was vague in its description of what the commissioners would like to see done along the waterfront, and went into explaining what they have in mind.

“We’d like to make some improvements,” Mooney said. “A little pier, little dock. Nothing huge, nothing big.”

The commissioners would like to add a pier and dock that could be accessed by motorized and non-motorized use, but have their sights set on appealing to kayaks, canoes and rowing-type vessels that could tie up during high and low tide. Motorized boats would probably be able to launch from the site during high tide, Mooney said.

Because there’s launches nearby in Silverdale and Bremerton, the Port of Tracyton doesn’t see a need to add that type of use, he said. Commissioners just want to create a “nice, little, non-big thing for (people) to use for their boats,” he said.

The reason the commissioners are looking to increase their revenues is because they don’t have enough money to build and maintain the facilities they would like to see in the long term. In addition to the dock/pier, they’ve talked about adding a 50- to 80-foot boardwalk and eventually bathrooms for people so they don’t have to run up to the businesses and use their facilities.

Commissioners hope to apply for grants to help fund construction and project costs, but before they do that they want to ensure they’ll have enough money to maintain the facilities once their built. If approved, the annexation would almost double the port’s annual collections.

The last time the port annexed was in 2008 when it added 1,500 homes near Tracyton’s border with Silverdale. At the time commissioners said they needed the annexation to generate the revenues to begin the work along the waterfront. But that expansion didn’t generate enough revenue and with budget cuts hitting the state’s funding for its grant programs, commissioners haven’t been able to get started on any of the projects.

Port attorney Phil Best also took time at the meeting to clarify a question posed by a man who read my story and had some concerns. Here’s an excerpt from an email he sent to Best:

“I am concerned that if the annex is passed and now Port of Tracyton borders the Port of Bremerton, RCW 53.04.120 could be used to transfer the Port of Tracyton to the Port of Bremerton without any vote and suddenly the tax rate would go from 4 cents to whatever the Port of Bremerton is currently collecting.”

Best looked into this RCW and whether one port could ever transfer its district to another district without a vote of the public. Here is his legal opinion:

… RCW 53.04.120 only applies to land actually owned by one port district and located within another port district. Where such land is adjacent to or within one-quarter mile of the port district that owns this land, this statute allows such land to become part of the port district that owns the land with consent of both port districts and the boundaries between the port district to be readjusted accordingly.

I discussed this with the Washington Public Port Association, and believe that the law was passed in 1977 to address a special need to allow two ports to agreeably adjust their boundaries in this limited circumstance. In the situation raised (in the above email inquiry), this statute would only apply to land actually owned by the Port of Bremerton and lying within the Port of Tracyton and within one-quarter mile of the Port of Bremerton boundary, and would not apply to other land within the Port of Tracyton not actually owned by the Port of Bremerton (that is, it would not apply to land owned by individuals…)

Bremerton City Councilman Jim McDonald was at the meeting and told the commissioners the area they hope to annex is his district. He said he was considering holding a public meeting to answer any questions his constituents might have about the annexation. He asked if one of the commissioners might make themselves available for the meeting. Mooney said he’d be glad to attend.

If I hear more about this meeting I’ll post it here.

Red-light camera numbers (lots of them) in Bremerton

This post on red-light cameras will have lots of figures for you to digest. There. You’ve been warned.

The Seattle Times has a story highlighting how Tim Eyman has found a cause that crosses party lines. He has helped or led efforts to see red-light cameras either eliminated or at least approved by voters in multiple communities.

Earlier in August we pointed out the (Everett) Herald story on the cash Lynnwood was making from cameras, enough that the chief warned the city would have to lay off officers if they were gone.

Some of you asked (“Asked” is a polite description of what you did.) for information about Bremerton. Here is what I have.

In 2010 Bremerton took in $685,232 in revenue for red-light cameras. The money sent to Redflex Inc, the Arizona company that runs the system, was $443,639. That gets us $241,593 for the year. In 2009 Andy Parks, former financial services director, said it cost the city about $7,500 a month in staff time to run the program. I can only assume now that the figure came from paying for the officers to look at the ticket and estimating the extra cost it takes to run each infraction through the municipal court system. That’s $90,000 a year. So if that accounts for all the city takes in, the annual net income for Bremerton in 2010 would have been $151,593.

This means approximately 5,525 tickets were successfully prosecuted in 2010.
That means the city issues an average of 15.1 tickets per day that will result in a paid citation.
That means each camera issues an average of 1.6 tickets per day that will result in a paid citation.
Citations would have to go down 22 percent for the city to hit the break even point.

That last part, though, is affected by the contract with Redflex. Each camera is supposed to generate enough tickets to earn the $4,000 per month charge. That’s 33 tickets. As of now each camera appears to be averaging about 51. Remember, that number reflects the number of tickets actually prosecuted.

The number of tickets are going down. In 2009 the number of tickets was in the neighborhood of 6,600. That’s based on the net figures I received from the city, added to the contract that was in place then, and then dividing that figure by $124, the cost of the ticket.

Another factoid worth noting. I said cameras issued an average of 51 prosecutable tickets per month. In May each camera issued about 83 tickets, which means nearly 40 percent of all tickets are not prosecuted.

Bremerton solves redistricting disparity

On Monday we had the story about Bremerton’s redistricting of its nine city council districts, pointing out that the city seemed headed toward a similar situation it had a dozen years ago. In one council election the loser in one district had more votes than the total number of voters in District Four.

In 2002 the council accounted for that and made District Four much bigger than the other districts. As of today District Four has 6,341 resident. The next largest is District Two, with 4,362 residents. District Four now has nearly double the residents as District Eight. Still, with the huge presence of Navy personnel who vote in their home towns, District Four had the lowest turnout.

As was pointed out Monday, the city interpreted existing law to state that it could no longer acknowledge that reality in its redistricting. District Four would have to return to near the same size as other districts. As it turned out the first proposal also left it as the lowest populated district overall, but only by 23.

Bill Eley, the city’s information technology manager, figured out a way to remedy that. The district actually got smaller, but pulled residents from other more participatory districts and gave some of its Navy-heavy neighborhoods to District Seven, which also borders the base and the shipyard.

Eley said District Four will still probably see the lowest turnout, but some of the Navy impact is shared.

It is worth pointing out here that story commented Brandon_R made just this suggestion. I think he and Eley arrived at the same conclusion independently. I asked Eley how he came up with the new idea and his answer didn’t include reading our story.

Red-light cameras pay off in Lynwood, literally

Anyone who willingly gives up an income stream is, in some cases, to be admired. That’s because many people spend whatever new money they get, thereby creating a new baseline for what they need. Governments are the same, which is why it is so hard to get rid of a tax no one likes, the business and occupation tax.

The same goes for revenues generated by red-light cameras. In Lynnwood the police chief admitted that if the program, which creates $4 million a year, were eliminated he’d have to eliminate officers. (By “eliminate” in the first reference I mean “get rid off.” In the second reference I mean they would no longer be police officers, not “eliminated” in the organized crime sense.)

It’s Friday (officially a municipal day off since you all stopped spending so much money in Bremerton.), so I couldn’t get full numbers from Bremerton on the income stream here. The cameras issue $124 tickets and the city pays RedFlex $4,000 a month per camera if those tickets add up to $4,000 or more. Plus there is the cost of having an officer review each infraction and whatever it costs to hear them in municipal court. The bottom line is I don’t know what the city nets from these cameras.

Nobody is really calling for the cameras to be eliminated anyway, so essentially I’m just sayin’.

A Confession

Last week I wrote three stories about the one-waying of Fifth Street in front of the Norm. Twice last week I nearly turned right from Washington Avenue onto Fifth. I remembered the news just in time.

Today I didn’t. I turned right onto Fifth, completely ignoring a couple of signs telling me not to. I realized my error quickly, pulling over before anyone had the opportunity to confront me head on. I made my turn just past those posts there to prevent me from hitting those diagonally parked cars.

I escaped without a ticket, but might have drawn a few chuckles from anyone looking down on me from the building. For those of you who witnessed that moment of comedy, you’re welcome.

Turning onto Fifth was a regular occurrence for me before the change. It shall not be anymore.

In other news, I saw the last Harry Potter movie this weekend.

Bremerton’s Akhimie responds to the resignation story

We got word from multiple sources that Vincent Akhimie, public works director for the city of Bremerton for the past year, had resigned, or been fired, one of those. It took a couple hours to get official confirmation.

I spoke with the mayor, Patty Lent, about Akhimie’s resignation, and at the end of our conversation she provided his cell phone number for me to call, a number I did not have. I called it and left a message. I then began writing a story based on the information I had and hoped Akhimie would call while I was writing. He didn’t, so we posted a story initially that said we could not reach him.

In my limited experience with Akhimie over the last year he was always helpful to me in my purposes. I was away on vacation last week and fellow reporter Chris Henry filled in for me at the city council meeting. Akhimie was helpful then, too. He went back to his office after the meeting to email a document to her.

Around 5 p.m. he called me at my desk after the story was already posted. I thought he was responding to my phone call, but in fact the phone number I had received from the mayor was Akhimie’s work cell phone number. Since he was no longer an employee of the city he no longer had that phone. He provided his version of the story, much of which appears in print.

I asked him what he was most proud of during his time and he said there was a list he’d like to write and send to me later in the evening. I said I would welcome the list, but that later in the evening would be too late for print. I did say I could post it on the Kitsap Caucus blog. The letter arrived in my email box today, Wednesday, at 3:37 p.m. Here it is:


TO: Steven Gardner, Reporter, Kitsap Sun

Below are my comments regarding the Kitsap Sun article, “Public Works Director Resigns,” as you suggested at the conclusion of our 7/12/11 evening phone conversation.

When I took the job of Public Works Director with the City, I made it clear to the Mayor at the outset that the Department’s challenges could not be resolved overnight and that it would likely take at least two years to turn things around. The Mayor wanted to accelerate changes in her administration and so did I. However, based on my twenty-plus years of experience in government, I suggested to the Mayor that gradual, incremental and well thought-out, vetted changes would be more sustainable and effective. I communicated to her the potential negative consequences of moving too fast. The Fifth Street debacle is an example of how things can go wrong when forced.

Despite any differences in style or opinions, I was able and willing to modify my approach to carry out her direction. In my career, I get things done, to the satisfaction of my clients when I was a consultant and to the satisfaction of my supervisors when I serve in the public sector. I respect the Mayor and her position. My separation from her administration was amicable.

Your July 12th article reported the Mayor as stating, “Communication was lacking.” Actually, there was more than enough communication between me and her, Public Works staff, the public and all branches of City government. The problem was that there was too much unproductive communication circumventing my office, top-down and bottom-up. An example is the recent surprise one-way Fifth Street implementation which ultimately involved the Finance Director. The Fifth Street one-way change, which met with opposition from Council and the public to some extent, was done without my authorization or sign-off as the City’s Public Works Director.

I am certain that I could have continued to make more significant contributions to the progress of the City of Bremerton. A lot has been accomplished under my leadership as Public Works and Utilities Director during my tenure with the City working with staff, as exemplified by: reducing the Department’s cost of operations by approximately $750,000 while increasing service levels in the Department; facilitating $3,000,000 in grant-funded Lower Wheaton Way road improvements; facilitating the start of $800,000 in grant-funded stormwater improvements for Anderson Cove including public waterfront access; resolving the approximately 15-year old Harrison Medical Center issue, allowing this major employer to move forward to expand their kitchen and surface parking facilities in East Bremerton; reprioritizing the Department’s Capital Improvements Program and moving ahead with the $2.5 million Cross Town pipeline project in order to avoid emergencies due to recurring breaks in this major sewer line without the use of outside consultants; obtaining additional remediation funding of $230,000 from the State Ecology Department to allow site work to be completed within budget for the City’s Evergreen Memorial Park; encouraging and fostering community outreach programs such as the public event marking the completion of the City’s Combined Sewer Overflow Reduction project, at which the Governor and Director of Ecology commended the Mayor and the City Bremerton as “a leader and role model” in water quality in the State, and a public campaign to improve water quality at Kitsap Lake.

Best regards,


Red light camera tickets struck down in Spokane

Last week a judge in Spokane ruled the city’s red-light camera tickets were invalid because the city was using an electronic signature on the tickets instead of an actual signature.

I’m checking with Bremerton to see what the impact might be here. Does anyone locally have a Bremerton ticket handy and can you say whether the signatures are done by hand or machine?

I’d love to know.

In Spokane an officer in Spokane was reviewing the tickets. The officer would authorize a signature, but the actual signature was done by American Traffic Solutions in Arizona. An attorney in the case argued that any signature that carries a penalty of perjury in Washington has to be one generated in Washington.

Sign of Bremerton City Council fireworks to come?

During Wednesday night’s Bremerton City Council meeting, city council candidate Lena Swanson took a few minutes, fewer than she wanted, to raise a few issues.

Her comments came during the public comment period. City Council President Will Maupin did what he and every other city council president or meeting leader I have ever seen did before the comments. He asked participants to say their names and limit their comments to three minutes. Swanson appeared to be grumbling a bit about the time constraint, but soldiered on.

Swanson discussed how a few years earlier she and others had asked the city to put the same kind of flowers you find on Pacific Avenue in front of businesses on Callow. The city did, but isn’t anymore. A drive through downtown and on Callow after the meeting revealed her complaint to be true, that they are on Pacific and not on Callow. She wants them back.

“West Bremerton does exist, you know,” she told the council.

Swanson also complained about the upkeep on the dog park at Pendegrast Park, comparing it unfavorably with the park in Silverdale. She said the Bremerton park is muddy compared to the one in CK. She urged the council to find volunteers who can help dig the drain field to help with water runoff there. She said people like herself shouldn’t have to drive to Silverdale for a clean dog park experience, saying of Silverdale, “They’ve already stolen our tax base.”

The next part is where the fireworks started. She mentioned she had spoken to Faye Flemister, the other candidate for the city council seat Swanson is seeking. She said the two of them seem to see eye to eye and that she had until tomorrow to withdraw from the race. Then, as she said she think she would do a fair job, Maupin interrupted her to remind her the law says no campaigning in city council meetings.

Swanson responded, “I’m contemplating withdrawing my candidacy. You keep talking to me like that I might change my mind.”

As her three minutes were up, she said again that West Bremerton exists, but “we may even withdraw from Bremerton you keep treating us like stepchildren.”

Swanson left the meeting. The council said nothing

Until later.

Following a presentation about park improvements to Kiwanis Park, located between Fourth and Fifth Streets and Veneta Avenue, Maupin told the audience, “I just want to point out that this is a project in West Bremerton.” Members of the council laughed briefly, but loudly.

Maupin will not be on the council in 2012. Swanson, as of 1:15 p.m., had not withdrawn from the race.

UPDATE: Sign of Bremerton City Council fireworks to come? No. Swanson withdrew.

Red-light camera company exec moonlights as footware

ATS Exec W Howard
The most recent season of Madmen featured a gimmick in which two women stage a fight over canned ham. The fight thing goes fine for a while, but later the women fight for real and risk ruining the company that hired them to do it.

This, of course, leads us to the furor over red-light cameras, which has been mild here compared to what’s happening in places like Mukilteo and Lynnwood. The company contracted to provide the service there and in Seattle is American Traffic Solutions, Inc.

Just as they are here, the arguments in the comments section of the (Everett) Herald can be heated, if any argument where people yell by typing in capital letters can be labeled as “heated.” At the Herald, though, there exists a ringer.

The Herald reports:

“A poster using the screen name “W Howard” has commented 43 times on our site since June. The unifying themes in these posts are that the cameras are good, that they are making the world safer and that anyone who says otherwise — particularly Mukilteo initiative activist Tim Eyman — needs their head examined.”

Someone tipped off the Herald that W Howard might be an American Traffic Solutions employee. Sure enough, the e-mail he used to register himself was from the company and belonged to an exec. Read the blog post.

Bremerton’s cameras are run by Redflex. I checked to see if we have any users with “redflex” as their e-mail. We do, but they haven’t posted any comments. I also checked to see if any of our commenters on the red-light stories left telltale signs of being from the company. At least on the most recent one no one did.

To learn how to make the executive sock pictured on this post, go to Danielle’s Place.

Hearing set for Tuesday on Port Orchard’s medical marijuana moratorium

The city of Port Orchard on Tuesday will hold a public hearing on a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries approved by the city council Feb. 22.

The city was allowed to impose the “emergency” moratorium without formal public input, but it is required to follow up with a hearing on the matter.

The owner of Greenthumb Medical referral service and Tacoma Greenthumb, a medical marijuana dispensary, was thwarted by the moratorium in his efforts to establish a medical marijuana facility at 944 Bay Street in Port Orchard. His attorney will be at the hearing tomorrow.

“My position is that I think it’s kind of ridiculous,” said the man, who does not want to be publicly identified due what he describes as recent changes in the industry.

He somewhat understands the moratorium on dispensaries where marijuana is sold, but believes it should not apply to referral centers, where patients obtain medical certification to receive marijuana for treatment of a wide range of ailments. He is not a doctor, but contracts with a doctor to provide referrals.

“A doctor should be able to write a recommendation anywhere in Washington,” he said.

Greenthumb Medical Inc. is registered with Washington State’s Department of Licensing. The owner, who operates in Tacoma, has been denied business licenses in Port Orchard, Bremerton and Gig Harbor.

Meanwhile, he and others with dispensaries in Tacoma are doing so in a state of limbo. Tacoma has temporarily allowed medical marijuana dispensaries, pending the outcome of proposed legislation. A bill to clarify the rules on medical marijuana has passed the state Senate and is under consideration in the House.

Greenthumb was among 19 new dispensaries to receive letters from the city of Tacoma ordering them to stop selling to patients by March 28 or face losing their licenses and possible criminal charges. The Tacoma News Tribune reported Saturday on the latest development in that city’s approach to the budding industry.

Tacoma in October sent similar cease-and-desist letters to eight dispensaries, which caused an immediate uproar. City officials decided to allow the dispensaries to operate, at least until the outcome of the bill became clear, but they were required to file appeals.

The purpose of the latest round of letters, according to the article, was to put all dispensaries on the same legal footing in anticipation of whatever action the city will take when the bill either passes or dies.

According to this business owner, however, the cumulative effect has been chilling, hence his desire to remain anonymous.

The city of Poulsbo also has instituted a moratorium on medical marijuana, although no inquires had been made about such a business when it went into effect.

A poll on the Kitsap Caucus homepage asking, “Do you favor or oppose passage of SB 5073, ‘concerning the medical use of cannabis?'” shows 31 votes for and 12 against the bill, or 72 percent to 28 percent.

Mayor Patty Lent called to jury duty

“I have been trying to get on jury duty every year since I was 18 years old. To get to go sit in an air conditioned room, downtown, judging people, while my lunch is paid for…that is the life.” — Stanley, The Office

The cranky take exception to the term “public service.” Sometimes I’m cranky. It’s not the “public” part, it’s the “service,” mostly when it’s a full-time job.

Jury duty, though, is something I think almost always merits the description, because even if we get paid the same as we would for doing our jobs, I don’t know many people who would want to do it for a living.

Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent didn’t. She was one of 49 who showed up out of the 55 who were summoned for jury duty last week. They filled out a questionnaire answering basic questions. About eight were dismissed for hardship reasons.

Lent herself tried to get out of it, saying her duties as mayor might prevent her from serving.

Judge Anna Laurie disagreed, however, telling Lent the summons she received was the same as everyone else’s. So Lent spent much of Monday, Wednesday and Thursday waiting. She said they advise jurors to bring a book.

On Thursday Lent’s number was called. The attorneys had the opportunity to dismiss some potential jurors. A defense attorney showed Lent the door.

By then Lent was glad Laurie had her stick around. “At first I was sorry they didn’t just let me go at the first,” she said. Now she’s planning to send thank-you letters.

“It was an amazing education,” she said.

That education included what responsibilities lie with attorneys from both sides. It also gave her a glimpse of reality that doesn’t show up on television when cases are concluded in an hour.

I was called to jury duty once when I lived in Poulsbo. I was instructed to call the courthouse every day for a week to see if I needed to go to Port Orchard and actually report. I did that until they told me to stop.

Three perspectives on federal spending

For those of you with time to read I present you three pieces that deal with federal spending. One says the government should be spending on things that create income, like education and infrastructure, instead of spending so much on benefits. Another offers that saying the government is “broke” is not correct, that deficit spending is a problem, but the U.S. is still in good financial shape. The final piece says arguments that a $61 million federal budget cut would be catastrophic is ridiculous, that $61 million is peanuts in comparison to the entire budget.

America’s Grim Budget Outlook

Bond Market Shows Why Boehner Saying We’re Broke Is Only Figure of Speech

Dems not taking debt seriously

Bremerton’s other fun rules

Following up on our story about “going public,” which is my latest invented euphemism for urinating in public, I was asked to find out what the fines are for littering. I still don’t know and will answer that when I do.

In the meantime, I thought you might like to know some of Bremerton’s other rules, which I caught in my search for a fine.

It is unlawful for a person to expectorate upon the floor, walls or furniture of any public conveyance, public building or any store open to and used by the public. (Ord. 4850 §2 (in part), 2003)

You also can’t spit on a bus.

If you own a tow company you have to accept checks.

Litter bags are mandatory in all vehicles.

Also, you’re not allowed to throw things, including yourself, from any bridge.

Heads Up on the Agenda


10 a.m.: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet at 619 Division St. and get a legislative update from lobbyist Tom McBride, and there will be “board information sharing.”

2 p.m.: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet at 619 Division St. and get a budget update and an energy program update. They will review a request from the public works department to get a fleet management software/hardware system, at a cost of $70,000, which will “provide the data and tools needed to properly and optimally manage a diverse fleet of vehicles” such as the county operates. The board also will review a proposal to loan the Village Green Metropolitan Park District $40,000. The VGMPD was formed by a vote of the public in 2010. The district’s commissioners have budgeted $40,000 in 2011 but will not be able to collect taxes until 2012. The county will loan the district the money as an advance on taxes. The district will repay half the principal plus interest on 4/30/2012 and the other half plus interest on 10/31/2012.
Fleet Management Software
Village Green Metro Park District

7:00 p.m.: The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet at 619 Division St., and among other business, will:
— vote on a resolution supporting legislation to reform the Washington State Ferry system
— review a contract with the Homebuilders Association of Kitsap County for the Built Green Program, involving $127,504 of federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds
— vote on a resolution to release $300,000 in funds from the county’s parks department earmarked under a previous agreement for pre-development and planning of the Village Green Community Park and a future site of the Village Green Community Center in Kingston
— approve a resolution initiating the Kitsap County Road program for 2011
— hold a public hearing to consider a resolution providing the initial docket for 2011 potential amendments to the Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan, Land Use and Zoning Maps, and Corresponding Development Regulations
— hold a public hearing to consider an Emergency Ordinance 466-2010 regarding interim regulations on homelessness
— hold a public hearing to consider an Ordinance amending Kitsap County Code 46.02 “Adoption of State Traffic Ordinance” to add a regulation that makes “inattentive driving” unlawful and subject to an infraction penalty of $124.00.

7:00 p.m.: The city of Port Orchard Planning Commission will meet at city hall, 216 Prospect St., to discuss downtown lighting, a 2011 parks plan update, and city’s Shoreline Master Plan.


1:00 p.m.: The Housing Kitsap Board of Commissioners will meet at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton, Suite 100, and review a work plan update and financials presented by Executive Director Tony Caldwell, among other business. The board will meet in executive session during the meeting to discuss personnel.


4:00 p.m.: The Bainbridge Island City Council will meet at city hall, 280 Madison Ave. N. Among other business, the council will discuss the Shoreline Master Program and Code Update.

5:00 p.m.: The Bremerton City Council will meet in the council conference chamber on the 6th floor and at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers on the main floor of the Norm Dicks Government Center. Among other business, the council will consider an ordinance to repeal the city’s admissions tax and it will consider a purchase and sale agreement with Kitsap County for the purchase of former EMS property at 17th street and Warren Avenue.
Bremerton Agenda

7:00 p.m.: The Poulsbo City Council will meet at city hall, 200 NE Moe St. Among other business, the council will hold a public hearing on its proposed six-year transportation improvement plan.

About that Kitsap Sun public records request on KCCHA

Today the Kitsap Sun begins a four-part series on the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (now Housing Kitsap), and how it nearly folded in 2008. That it nearly folded is not news. We reported on that as events unfolded. In the series, we attempt to give the back story, and to provide a comprehensive retrospective, now that the agency has moved on from its troubled past.

At the bottom of this post, you’ll find links to some of the key public records we accessed in the course of our research, including e-mails from elected officials and others, financial records and a meeting video.

The series, in the works for a year, tracks the housing authority’s financial woes related to its Harborside Condominium project and other factors, including the recession (days 1 and 2). The series moves on with a look at how the agency has gotten back on track and rededicated to its mission of affordable housing (day 3). Readers will also get a peek inside the lives of condo owners who reside in one of the most talked-about (and upscale) complexes in Kitsap County (day 4).

Delving into the cause of KCCHA’s financial meltdown, we found nothing illegal. We did find a culture of risk-taking within the agency that left it far more vulnerable than other Washington State housing authorities when the recession hit and the housing market imploded. The result is that public money will be paying off substantial debt on the private condo complex for what could be decades.

In the course of our research, we made public records requests for e-mails between and about housing authority board members and staff, financial records and a video of the 2005 meeting at which the county’s board of directors agreed to back a portion of financing on the condos.

State law provides for open access to public records. Three public records bills that would have made compliance with the law easier for local governments appear to be dead in the water in Olympia.

Without personally taking a position on the bills, I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of the public records officials who complied with our requests. The e-mail requests alone yielded well over 1,000 documents, each of which had to be reviewed for information to be redacted (as in attorney client privilege) before it was turned over to us.

The clerks and IT specialists who complied with our requests were just doing their jobs, as we were just doing ours in reporting the story. But it’s worth noting that the public’s access to records comes with a cost of time and energy within the agency asked to comply. That translates to public dollars. So the right to access public records is not one we at the Kitsap Sun take lightly.

Local governments and agencies complying with the Kitsap Sun’s public records request included: Housing Kitsap, the cities of Port Orchard, Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island, Kitsap County and Bremerton Kitsap Access Television.

In addition to our interviews conducted with elected officials, staff at Kitsap County and Housing Kitsap provided extensive information for the story.

Here are the public records:

KCCHA Condo Loan, Feb. 14, 2005
Condo Loan, Feb. 14, 2005
The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 14, 2005, entered into a contingent loan agreement with the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (now Housing Kitsap) to back a $22 million bond on the Harborside Condominiums.

KCCHA Condo Loan, Minutes, Feb. 14, 2005
Minutes of the Feb. 14, 2005 meeting of the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners, at which the board approved a contingent loan agreement with the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority on the Harborside Condominium project. See item (8) a.

Video of Feb. 14, 2005 BOCC Meeting

KCCHA CondoConcerns, July 26, 2007
This is an e-mail from a couple who bought one of the Harborside Condominiums in Bremerton when the project was “just a dream.” Rick Shaver, the condo owner, writes to the contractor with multiple complaints about poor workmanship and delays. The e-mail is copied to Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman who forwards it to Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority Executive Director Norm McLoughlin. KCCHA was in charge of the projects. Bozeman writes, “You should be aware of this.”

KCCHA Operating Deficit, Jan., 2008
A financial summary for the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority showing an operating deficit of nearly $300,000 per month.

KCCHA Spreadsheets, Nov., 2007 to April, 2008
Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority documents give financial “snapshots” of the agency’s fiscal profile from Nov., 2007 to April, 2008.

KCCHA bauer.eml, Aug. 29, 2008
This is an Aug. 29, 2008, e-mail from Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer to a North Kitsap Fire and Rescue Chief in which Bauer shares the financial woes of Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority. Bauer writes that “the Bremerton (Harborside) condos are eating them alive.”

KCCHA countertop.complaint, Aug. 8, 2008
In this e-mail letter to Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority Executive Director Norm McLoughlin, condo owner, Patrick M. Rodgers complains about the material used in the countertops of his condo and threatens legal action if the problem is not remedied. The correct material was used, but the contractor applied the wrong finish, causing defects. All the countertops using this type of stone had to be replaced. The e-mail is copied to the agency’s board of directors.

KCCHA bauer.eml.Sept. 12, 08
Kitsap County Commissioner writes in a Sept. 12, 2008, e-mail to a financial consultant, that Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority Executive Director Norm McLoughlin has been using one of the agency’s lines of credit as a “private venture capital fund to cover ‘exploration’ of new ventures without telling the (housing authority’s) Board.”

KCCHA change/leadership, Oct. 2, 2008
In this e-mail exchange from early October 2008, among North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer and the mayors of the North Kitsap cities of Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island, Bauer informs Kathryn Quade and Darlene Kordonowy that the county’s board of commissions wanted a “change of leadership” in the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority.

KCCHA Next Steps, Oct. 9, 2008
In this e-mail exchange with members of the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority Board of Directors, finance director Debbie Broughton lays out a fiscal strategy for keeping the agency from failing, as well as terms for her acceptance of the position of interim director. Last e-mail was sent just days before Executive Director Norm McLoughlin abruptly retired.

KCCHA mcloughlin retirement Oct. 14, 2008

This is an e-mail exchange between Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, of the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority Board of Directors, and attorney Will Patton of Foster Pepper law office, regarding the retirement agreement for Norm McLoughlin, the agency’s executive director. The agreement, copied to other members of the housing authority board, is in draft format and shows items under negotiation shortly before McLoughin announced his retirement. A draft of the press release that was to be sent upon announcement of his retirement is included in the e-mail.

KCCHA $40.5 million loan, May. 15, 2009
This is a copy of the loan agreement whereby Kitsap County bailed out Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority. Called the tri-party loan, it includes the Bank of America, lender, and provides for refinancing of debt, including more than $30 million related to the Harborside Condominiums.

KCCHA debt policy, May 18, 2009
This is a policy on debt approved by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners days after they approved a $40.5 million bailout for the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority. The policy set more strict standards for the county on contingent loan agreements, such as the one it entered into with KCCHA in 2005 on the Harborside Condominium project.

Frances Haddon Morgan Center update

We posted online on Tuesday and plan to have in print a story updating the future of the Frances Haddon Morgan Center, a facility for the developmentally disabled that has been open since 1972.

At issue is whether the state’s executive branch, through the Department of Social and Health Services, is treating the center’s closure as a done deal and whether the agency has the right to do that.

I have a call into DSHS officials to find out what the agency’s plans are for the center and if it is as legislators contend, what authority they’re relying on to proceed that direction.

State Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, said she believes the agency is attempting to relocate the center’s residents before the Legislature passes a final budget. Doing so would take the decision about the center out of the Legislature’s hands. The questions being discussed now are whether that is really happening and whether that is within the executive branch’s right to do.

More as it arrives.

Red-light cameras here to stay?

This week the Legislature debated bills that would restrict how cities employ red-light cameras. You all know, of course, that Bremerton has them and no place else in the county does.

A week ago an e-mail from initiative guy Tim Eyman made me curious about the roots of an effort in Longview, so I e-mailed him asking to chat. Eyman got red-light cameras overturned in Mukilteo, where he lives, and has begun helping other communities either get them overturned or make it so voters would have to approve their installation. He was also at the legislative committee meeting Wednesday.

Eyman is among many who believe the cameras are not about the safety they are said to be when they are proposed. That’s how cities get them in, he said. Afterward they just collect the cash and pay for things with it. “It’s an entire government program based on a lie,” he said.

In Bremerton it helped fund some new police officers. According to a study done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they also helped reduce vehicle fatalities in major cities that had them. From the organization’s press release:

“Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in 14 of the biggest US cities, a new analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. Had cameras been operating during that period in all large cities, a total of 815 deaths would have been prevented.”

The chief question I had for Eyman was whether someone contacted him in Longview, or if he contacted them. He couldn’t remember. It seems to go both ways, so it doesn’t really matter, except that there is no one I know of in Bremerton who is leading any kind of effort to get rid of the ones here.

And if I were to lay bets on what will happen in Olympia, I think the odds are against anything coming down that would restrict cities too much, especially those that already have the cameras in place. The most recent evidence is that the cameras do save lives, and the revenue stream is already flowing in. At a time when governments are scrambling for income I think it would take a pretty compelling case for legislators to take a revenue stream away from local governments.

Eyman told the legislators that it may come to a state initiative if they don’t act, the one thing that might persuade them to enforce some limits not in place now. If it comes to an initiative, it’s a pretty good guess he’d feel confident about its chances. He said (I haven’t double-checked, but it sounds plausible.) that in 15 cases in which voters had an opportunity to vote against cameras, they did every time. In our own online poll asking whether voters should decide to install cameras, two-thirds of you said “Yes.”

Heads Up: On The Agenda

Brynn Grimley writes:

Here’s what we’re looking at for this week:

Kitsap County Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street, Port Orchard)

Monday, Jan. 17: No meeting, County Offices are closed in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 8:30 a.m.: The board will review its agenda for the Jan. 24 meeting for 45 minutes then “share information” from 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. They’ll then here about “Inattentive Driving Code” for 15 minutes before spending the next hour and a half discussing the DCD work plan/docket. At 11:30 a.m. they’ll recess into a 30 minute executive session to discuss real estate.

City of Bremerton (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 5:30 p.m.: The council will hold a regular meeting. No business items are on the agenda, but there is one public hearing item listed. It’s the first of two hearings on leasing Smith Park children’s play area to Kitsap Community Resources. A decision will be made on the lease at the council’s Feb. 2 hearing.

City of Port Orchard (meets at 219 Prospect Street)

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 6 p.m.: The council will have a work study session, but the agenda is not listed online yet. See it here, if it’s posted.

City of Poulsbo (City Hall, 200 Moe Street)

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m.: The council is meeting, but the agenda is not listed yet on the city’s website.